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It’s the beginning of the year and time to look at your goals and priorities for your business. For some, this is extremely exciting and something to look forward to. For others, this part is excruciating! The task of marketing your business can be overwhelming and the constant feeling of being overwhelmed can quickly lead to burnout. Here are ten ways that you can prevent burnout or rekindle your passion for your business.

1. Walk in Their Shoes. Take some time to look at your business and marketing from your consumers’ perspective. Think about what matters most to them. Try to inspire.

2. Get out There. Walk away from your desk, your computer and interview your ideal customers. Ask them what they see as benefits to your business, what their goals are, what values they hold most important, and what changes they’d like to see.

3. Connect with your Newest Employees. Feed off their excitement, why they are looking forward to working for you, and being your brand ambassadors. Rekindle that feeling of love for your business and what you do.

4. Ask for Feedback. When you receive positive feedback, it will remind you what works, what makes your consumers happy. When you receive negative feedback, it will show you what changes you need to make, what obstacles you need to overcome, and what things can be optimized.

5. Write it Down. Plan! Take time to set goals, prioritize your projects and work backwards to make those projects successful by marketing them and making them happen.

6. Retreat. Take time to refresh. Get away and spend time looking seriously at your brand, your business and the goals you’ve set for yourself, both personally and professionally.

7. Train and Conference. Take time to re-energize yourself by attending trainings and conferences that will not only make you a better business owner, but will inspire you to WANT to be better.

8. Schedule. Set an ideal schedule for every aspect of your business; Social Media, Internet Marketing, PR, Speaking Events, Conferences, Industry Association opportunities, etc. and stick to it. Create an ideal schedule for your week, incorporating ways to make these things happen.

9. Educate Yourself. Devote time to learning. Watch tutorials, speak to experts, and sign up for business groups that offer educational opportunities.

10. Take a Break. Disconnect. This will allow you time to take time for yourself so you can come back more energized and focused on your plan.

Owning a business is more than just doing what you love or filling a customer’s need. Marketing yourself and your business enables you to reach more of your ideal customers, show them why your business is the best fit for their need, and allows you to be more successful. Follow these tips to prevent marketing burnout! 

How do you conquer marketing in your business? Please share your ideas in the comment section below.


 
 
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“I just don’t think we have IT and I’m not sure we ever did” are NOT the words every woman longs to hear on her anniversary. I know from experience.

Lucky number thirteen. That was the anniversary I was “celebrating” when I heard those words. My husband, however was not celebrating. He was escaping. He was looking for a spark, an ember, some sort of storybook romance that just doesn’t seem to burn as hot after thirteen years of marriage, two kids, and a mortgage. Well, not when it’s not fostered. And that’s where we were.

Scott and I were doing life together. We were great friends. We had a good partnership – as in, I cook the dinner, he cleans the dishes. I run the kids around and manage their activities, he works outside the home and pays for everything. Sometimes we spend “alone” time – in front of the TV, or out to dinner and a movie – when we weren’t exhausted from this mechanical routine built on complacency and obligation. NOT how a marriage should work. But still, I wasn’t expecting those words. And especially not on my anniversary.

My immediate reaction was to argue and say “Of course we had IT. We just need to remember what we did with IT and bring IT back.” He was not so convinced. And so began our separation. That night. An awful way to end an anniversary evening. In bed. Alone. With a box of Kleenex. Or three.

There were lots of tears through those next several weeks. There was a lot of anger, resentment, rude words, hurtful confessions and ultimately, blame. I blamed him for everything falling apart. After all, he was the one who brought it all up, right? Wrong. I was equally to blame. An ugly realization.

I had taken him for granted. We were married. Committed. For life. Although, when that mentality sinks in the way it did for me then, I realized that meant that I still had LOTS of work to do. On myself – the only one of us I had control over. I read lots of self-help books: Codependent No More, Boundaries, my Bible. I saw a fantastic counselor. I worked on me. It was eye-opening.

Weeks after spending time apart, which was so hard, especially during Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s, I had resigned myself to the fact that our marriage was over and I started accepting it. My husband however, did not. He finally saw what a wonderful gift we had and how fragile our relationship was. He understood that we both had work to do and made the commitment to do the work WITH me.

That was over two years ago and we work really hard to never let ourselves get to that place. We have date nights. A lot. Sometimes we go out, without the kids, sometimes we stay in, and have our date night after the kids are in bed. And sometimes we have family date nights. We communicate often. The TV goes off, the conversation begins. Funny how that works. We say “No.” A lot. To friends, family and our kids. We have decided to put our relationship with God and each other above all others. Even our kids. That was tough. Our time together now is sacred and we guard it. We share intentional, relationship-building moments. We have built intimacy through these intentional moments. And that’s where IT comes from. Finally, we have IT back. And IT is better than ever before.

 
 
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One of my favorite memories growing up is making Christmas cookies and candy with my Nana. She does it all: Thumbprints, Sugar Cookies, Pecan Tarts, Wedding Cookies, Buckeyes, Turtles, Fudge. She gave us each jobs from the time we could hold a spoon.

Now that I’m a mom, I look forward to making Christmas baking memories with my kids. Thumbprint cookies are a favorite recipe in our house. The kids can easily add the ingredients, roll the dough balls and press their little thumbs into each cookie, giving them an extra bit of love. The kitchen is a mess when we’re finished, but our bellies are full and and so are our hearts.


Thumbprint Cookies (Makes 3-dozen cookies)
Ingredients:
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs, separated
2 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup finely chopped nuts (optional)
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Directions:
Heat oven to 350ºF. Mix brown sugar, shortening, butter, vanilla and egg yolks in medium bowl. Stir in flour and salt until dough holds together. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Beat egg white slightly. Dip each ball into egg white. Roll in nuts. Place about 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Press thumb deeply in center of each. Bake about 10 minutes or until light brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes. Fill thumbprints with butter icing (recipe below.)



Butter Icing
Ingredients:
4.5 cups powdered sugar
2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
3 teaspoons vanilla
3 to 4 tablespoons milk
Food color of choice (optional)

Directions:

In medium bowl, mix powdered sugar and butter with spoon or electric mixer on low speed. Stir in vanilla, 1 tablespoon of the milk, and food coloring, if using. Gradually beat in just enough remaining milk to make frosting smooth and spreadable. If frosting is too thick, beat in more milk, a few drops at a time. If frosting becomes too thin, beat in a small amount of powdered sugar.
 
 
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The American Marketing Association Dictionary defines Brand as the “name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s product distinct from those of other sellers.” Derived from the term that farmers used to differentiate their cattle from another's by means of a distinctive symbol burned into an animal’s skin with a hot iron stamp, this word is now widely used in business, marketing, and advertising. Brand is the personality that identifies a product, company or service and how it relates to consumers, employees, and investors. It can be a name, term, sign, symbol, design or a combination of them.



Brands are typically made up of various elements, such as:
  • Name: This includes the word or words used to identify a company, product, service, or concept.
  • Logo: This is the visual mark that identifies the brand.
  • Tagline: This would be the descriptor or one-line catchphrase that is associated with a company. For example: Nike’s “Just do it.”
  • Graphics: This is the main visual element that is part of a brand. For example: the ribbon that is a part of the Coca-Cola brand.
  • Colors: These are standard, recognizable colors associated with a brand. For example: Coca-Cola’s red, or Facebook’s blue.

Brand identity is the outward expression of a brand. It includes these elements and is usually assembled by the owner of the brand or a designer hired to create the visual elements of the brand. It reflects how the owner wants the consumer to perceive the brand. This is very important in creating brand recognition and loyalty going forward.

Proper branding can lead to higher sales of a product or service and can create loyalty in a market For instance, if someone loves Nike shoes, he or she is more likely to also purchase other Nike products, like clothing or accessories. This creates brand loyalty. Brand loyalty consists of a consumer’s commitment to repurchase or continue using the brand. Brand loyalty can establish life-time users and in essence, spokespeople for a brand.

It is the hope of most business owners to create an iconic brand, like Apple, Nike, or Volkswagen; however, it is not always possible. For small business owners, having a strong visual presence, communicating your message effectively, and creating positive brand experiences is key. Brand recognition is the most important goal in the early months and years of a company or product’s introduction. It is evaluated, generally as a percentage of the target market. Do your ideal customers recognize you? Can they recall your brand? Do they have positive feelings about your brand? Awareness, and positive awareness, most importantly, helps your brand stand out from the others in this very competitive market.

So, not only are the individual elements of your brand important: your name, logo, graphic elements, colors; all these elements combined (which creates your overall brand) create the experience for your ideal customer. Remain consistent in your message, your visual elements and most of all your customer experience. THAT is the way to create a loyal following and in turn, create customers for life.
 
 
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My husband, Scott, is a relentless Christmas music lover. We usually start listening to Christmas music at the first sign of cold weather, although it’s not unusual for him to pop a Christmas CD in on our way to the grocery in August, either.  My kids would love it if we kept our tree up all year. They want our elf, Carol to vacation with us and sleep in their rooms so Santa can see just how delightful they are all year-round (when they’re not fighting or talking back.) I love decorating the house and reminiscing about the homemade ornaments the kids made in their preschool class or the craft we did 5-years-ago that HAS to sit on the mantle. Needless to say, Christmas is our FAVORITE!

Last year, we started our Activity Advent. It’s our countdown to Christmas day and a way to spend quality family-time together during this busy season. The kids take turns opening the little envelopes that are attached to the red and white twine hanging near their rooms. Some activities just require our PJs and a Redbox Christmas movie. Others take us outside the home to look at lights or to see a Christmas concert. And there are several that help us see how blessed our family is and to share our blessings with others. Every day, though, we’re taking time to celebrate intentionally and it ends without fighting, tears, or name-calling – my idea of perfect. Download the Activity Advent HERE and start creating more of your own Christmas memories.

The Christmas season is without a doubt, the Murray-est time of our year and hopefully, yours’ too.  So put a little Johnny Mathis Christmas music on, pour yourself a mug of hot chocolate and start building that gingerbread house. Blessings to your and your family this Christmas season! Have Yourself a Murray Little Christmas.
 
 
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I know it may be shocking. Maybe not to you, but to my kids, their school teachers, my neighbors, some friends, and that person on Facebook who always wants to measure my life to hers’, it is. I’m not perfect. I wake up with mascara smeared across my eyelid, much to my daughter’s dismay, since I didn’t notice it before I picked her and a gaggle of girlfriends up from school. I sometimes forget to force my son to do his spelling test every night and he comes to school on Friday, seeing the word “accountable” for the first time. I occasionally leave my garbage cans out an extra day after the trucks have hauled away the stinky trash. And sometimes, God forgive me, I leave a word out of my Facebook status that should have read: “I left my daughter’s coat at Meijer” when instead, it said “I left my daughter at Meijer.” Does this bother me that I mess up, that I can’t balance everything perfectly? Yes. Yes, it does. And many times, the guilt that I feel or the anxiety that comes after a not-so-perfect incident is overwhelming.

But, I’m starting to mellow out. And I’m giving more things to God. He knows that the time I forgot to send my dad his birthday gift, I didn’t love him any less. His grace is given to us, why don’t we allow it for ourselves? I struggle with this daily and at times, I’m able to see that I’m my own worst critic. Other times, it’s clearly pointed out to me. And those are the times I have to remember His grace the most. I know that I’m doing my best and that’s pretty darn good.

Another way that I keep it all in perspective is my Gratitude Journal. When I see all the things I’m grateful for in my life, things that REALLY matter, all the other stuff starts to fade away. It becomes less important and allows me to feel less small. At our Retreat in September, we challenged all of the ladies in attendance to start 100 Days of Gratitude to end their year. Each day or night, they were asked to write down one thing that they were grateful for. My list includes things like warm baths, date nights with my husband, peanut butter, snuggles with my kids, and fingerless gloves. Of course, “God’s grace” and “my relationship with God” are in my journal as well, but the little things are important, too. Those things keep me grounded and allow me to be okay with not being perfect. 

It’s fine. I know my life will not be full of perfect moments. I know that my house won’t always be clean when a friend stops by, that my car won’t always get an oil change when the dealership thinks it’s time, and that my kids’ birthday cakes won’t always be homemade, but those are the things that really don’t matter in the scheme of things. What does matter is that a friend stops by, regardless of the way my house looks; that I have a car that gets me and my family safely where we need to go; that I get to celebrate one more birthday with my kids. And that’s perfect to me.

 
 
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This time of year, I love all things pumpkin. I can’t get my fill of pumpkin muffins, pumpkin lattes and my favorite treat – pumpkin butter. It’s really Fall on a spoon! I use it on my yogurt and granola, in smoothies, on toast and pancakes for an extra special breakfast treat. Sometimes, when no one’s around, I just eat it with a spoon right out of the jar. This yummy treat makes wonderful gifts and freezes well. Unfortunately, it’s not advised to actually “can” pumpkin butter, due to it’s low acidity and the viscosity of the squash, but it keeps well in the fridge for … well, I’m not really sure how long it will last – not more than a week or so, in my house.

Many thanks to Gina at skinnytaste.com,  one of my most favorite food bloggers, for this recipe. She also has lots of links to other Fall favorites using this treat as an ingredient. (http://www.skinnytaste.com/2007/07/skinny-pumpkin-madness.html)

Pumpkin Butter
Gina's Skinny Recipes
Servings: 30 • Serving Size: 2 tbsp • Old Points: 1 pts • Points+: 1 pts
Calories: 32 • Fat: 0.1 g • Protein: 0.5 g • Carb: 9.5 g • Fiber: 1.3 g • Sugar: 8 g 
Sodium: 3.5 g 

Ingredients:
  • 3 1/2 cups pumpkin puree, or 1 (29 ounce) can (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup apple cider or juice
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2-3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1-2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (to taste)
Directions:
Combine pureed pumpkin, vanilla, apple juice, spices, cinnamon sticks and sugar in a large saucepan; stir well. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 30 - 40 minutes or until thickened. Stir frequently. Adjust spices to your taste. Makes 3 3/4 cups.

 
 
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We all know how important it is to market your business - whether you are providing a service, tangible products, or both.  You want your consumer to see what you have to offer and USE it! You have invested time, energy and money in finding out who your ideal customer is, what their biggest ache is, and how you will uniquely fill that need, now it’s time to let them know you’re there.

Communication is key. Crossing all modes of communication to reach your customer and letting them know you’re available is imperative. Some businesses see huge response from brochures, posters, direct mail, and outdoor marketing. Some businesses perform best through social media, online marketing, and email lists. And LOTS of businesses use ALL these platforms to reach their ideal customer. One very important thing remains the same for a successful marketing campaign: Cohesiveness.

Cohesiveness means well-integrated; unified. Your marketing materials must clearly and immediately be recognizable as YOUR brand. YOU have what they want, YOU can help fill their ache, YOU are the go-to person for their need.

Some basic elements would include your logo on all marketing materials. You need a way for them to know that it’s you speaking to them and your logo should visually represent your business across all platforms. You should have a consistent color palette that is recognizable. Part of our Branding process includes a color analysis. We look to industry standards, business demographics, and other design standards to represent our clients with a color palette that fits well with their brand and consumer. You should also have a family of fonts that you use on all marketing materials and everywhere your brand is represented. These should include headline fonts, body copy fonts and accent fonts. They should remain consistent. Your image use and potential photography choices should be cohesive as well. Do you use black and white photography on your website? Then use black and white photography in your brochures, on flyers and social media marketing. Do you have a quirky style of illustration that you love for a brochure? Incorporate it into your website, your Facebook cover photo, your next ad campaign. You want your ideal customer to know exactly who you are and a consistent visual representation of your business every time they come into contact with you, will accomplish it.

OzzCare is a fantastic example of consistency in marketing. Their website uses several important visual elements: black and white photography with opaque color overlay, their unique family of fonts, a strong color palette, and a logo that is easily identifiable. Here are some examples of how they maintain a visually strong and cohesive look:

Do you need help with creating cohesiveness in the marketing of your business? Let the Lori Murray help you communicate clearly and consistently to your ideal customer.

 
 
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Color is an integral part of marketing. It evokes a mood from your consumer, it helps you stand out amongst other companies, and it can define your industry. The color of your logo and marketing materials is as important as your logo and marketing materials. If you have chosen a color just because you like it, without thinking of the impact that color has, it may be time to consider some changes.

1. There are generally industry standards for color.
For example, green has become the industry standard for health and nutrition. “Green” has even become the term for eco-friendly. At the same time, you may also want to look at colors that are typically NOT used in your industry. For example, one large bank recently changed their logo, store signage, ATMs, etc from their red and black logo to a new logo featuring the colors blue and green. In the financial industry, being “in the red” is undesirable, while blue communicates trustworthiness. Thinking about typical colors for your industry and colors that may have a negative connotation are good practices when creating your identity and color palette.

2. Some colors help to evoke a mood. Peaceful colors are generally blue, green, or turquoise. Corporate colors are black or navy. Exciting colors are red or magenta. I generally hear clients say they’d like their logo and color palette to be bright and cheerful to evoke an uplifting mood, as in Denise Mock’s color palette. She wanted to reinforce a positive, cheerful outlook, so we decided to create her logo in several bright colors that can be used interchangeably in her marketing materials.

3. Who is your ideal customer? There tends to be some general guidelines when marketing to certain targets. For example, men tend to prefer the color blue or gray to red. Women tend to prefer red to blue. The age range of your ideal customer also will need to be a consideration. Babies tend to cry more in a yellow room (I have personal experience with this) and respond better to visuals that are high contrast. Pre-adolescent children tend to gravitate more to primary colors, where teens and young adults start showing a preference for more complex colors.

4. Colors can also create a sense of urgency. Yellow, red and orange have a tendency to be attention grabbing and therefore can cause a sense of urgency. In fact, in 1999, research from Pantone revealed that a yellow background with black type was the best color combination for printed material*. It stated that this combination scored highest in memory retention and legibility. Ever wonder why all those school flyers and postings on telephone poles are printed on neon paper?

5. Color can help you stand out. We’ve already talked about industry standards, that green usually is related to healthy, eco-friendly, or natural, but by choosing a different color than the industry norm, you can stand out. For instance, if you are the only purple label in the natural shampoo aisle, you’re label will be most likely to stand out. Sometimes, it’s about being different.

6. You need to be versatile. Don’t “paint yourself into a corner” with color. Make sure you have a color palette. Choose colors that work together as a family. Make certain they can be used to compliment each other and facilitate the type of instant communication we’ve talked about.

7. Lastly, break the rules. Use colors that appeal to you. You want to love your logo and branding, so be sure to choose what speaks to you, as well.  There is always more than one option when it comes to color in business. You don’t have to choose anything that you don’t like or that doesn’t resonate with you.

* The Costco Connection, December, 1999
Photo credit: Steve Snodgrass
 
 
A successful logo represents a company to consumers. It may be also called a trademark, brand, logotype, identity, mark, symbol or emblem. All of these things get meaning from the company it represents. When effective, a logo can help sell a product or service. It can be the visual representation that consumers can make “their’s” and become loyal to. It is the role of the logo to visually represent a company in the simplest form possible.

These are the ten most important elements of a successful logo. Most of these examples are logos you are familiar with and do all of these things successfully.

#1. Keep it Simple

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Simplicity is key in communication, especially visual communication. A logo that is overworked is hard to reproduce and can make it difficult for your consumer to remember. Recognition is very important!

*Fun Fact: The original BBC logos were designed with an Italic typeface. In 1997, the BBC logo was changed to the current style, which reflects a more strong and bold image for the corporation and its programs.

#2. Make it Memorable.

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This follows the key of simplicity. Your logo should be one your consumer can recall easily. After all, you want to “leave your mark.”

*Fun Fact: The two golden arches were designed initially to mimic the new arched shaped symbols on the side of the restaurant. Later, the arches were merged and the process resulted in the simple golden “M” which reflects the name of the food chain.

#3. Relevant.

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In addition to being memorable, you want your consumer to start thinking about the products or services you offer. Your logo should make a statement about your company, it should reveal the nature of your company or product without using exact literal terms.

*Fun Fact: The three silhouetted faces of women in the Girl Scouts logo signify courage and strength to all US women; they encourage them to be a member of the Scout program and take part in the community service.

#4. Unique.

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Is your logo distinguishable from your competitors or other companies? Your logo needs to be as unique as you are. You should avoid stock images or generic images at all costs. If a stock image is available to you, it’s available to everyone and that means your logo is not specific to you. Additionally, most stock art companies (vector or otherwise) specifically state that the art cannot be used in, or as any part of, a logo. Be sure to read the fine print!

*Fun Fact: The Rolling Stones logo actually represents the intense and rebellious mouth of Mick Jagger, a character as unique and memorable as the logo.

#5. Engage your Audience.

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Give them the opportunity to discover the meaning and intention of your logo themselves. They will be more likely to retain your logo image if they can give it personal equity.

*Fun Fact: Look closely at the FedEx logo and you’ll see a hidden arrow between the ‘E’ and the ‘x’– a symbol for speed and precision, both FedEx attributes.

#6. Timelessness.

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Imagine where your company will be in 10 or 15 years. What kind of products or services will you potentially add? Will your logo still be relevant? Timeless logos may incur some minor changes, but they also can stand the test of time.

*Fun Fact: The Coca-Cola logo was created by Frank Mason Robinson in 1885! In over 125 years, this timeless logo has only received minor revisions.

#7. Versatile.

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The ability of your logo to be applied in many different ways is very important. It needs to hold up on business cards, websites, faxed documents, etc. The best way to ensure this is to create your logo in vector format, this allows for flexibility when scaling your logo.

*Fun Fact: The Adidas logo is comprised of three parallel lines symbolizing the outstanding athletic performance. The logo’s versatility stretches beyond apparel and into print, large format and web usage.

#8. Effective Without Color.

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Your logo may never be seen in black and white — except, perhaps on a fax, but it should hold up without color. Sometimes, it’s more productive to see the logo only in black and white until final stages. This helps focus on the quality of the mark, the simplicity, and clear communication, without adding another element. When it’s time to pick colors, choose wisely! Sometimes there are clear color “no-no’s” of the industry, sometimes there are “trend” colors. Like your logo, the colors you chose should be relevant to your industry and timeless.

*Fun Fact: The Apple logo at one time, consisted of 7 colors of the rainbow, speaking of the separation of white light and the introduction of colors to the IT products. Now, we recognize it as the silvery chrome polished apple; a look that’s both clean and sleek.

#9. Consistent.

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An important trait of a good logo is versatility. You want to communicate a consistent image among all marketing materials, including your website, your business cards, publications, brochures, posters, etc. In order to build brand recognition, you need to remain  consistent with your logo usage.

*Fun Fact: The currently used ABC logo, designed by famous graphic designer Paul Rand, has been used for 50 years.

#10. Equity.

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A successful logo must hold value. It should be hard to replace because of the value it holds. This goes hand-in-hand with timelessness. Logos help build brand equity. Changing your logo will and should impact the equity your logo holds.

*Fun Fact: After changing their logo in October, 2010, Gap faced an outpouring of social media criticism. Their response: “Ok. We’ve heard loud and clear that you don’t like the new logo. We’ve learned a lot from the feedback,” the company said on its Facebook Page. “We only want what’s best for the brand and our customers. So instead of crowdsourcing, we’re bringing back the Blue Box tonight.”

In the end, a logo requires thought, planning, time and money. The design of the logo should support the goal and image of the company, not the opposite way around. A successful logo can determine the recognition of a brand, consumer loyalty, and the equity the brand holds. It should be the simplest form of communication, but bears a lot of weight.

If you need help creating your logo, then I would love to help you! To get more information about my logo design services, please enter your name & email in the Comments section.